Obama Stalls Keystone Pipeline With Executive Order

The Barack Obama Administration announced Tuesday that it will, via executive order, halt further progress on the highly debated Keystone XL pipeline.

Executive action announced by the Administration asks the State Department not to approve construction on the pipeline unless the Environmental Protection Agency first determines that the project will not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The President’s order, announced during a speech on climate change at Georgetown University, will make it nearly impossible for construction on the pipeline to commence.

Obama has largely avoided discussing the Keystone project, as it put him in the middle of an argument between labor groups in favor of the pipeline and environmentalists opposed to it; both are groups that have supported the Obama Administration.

“As the executive order on Keystone contemplates, the environmental impacts will be important criteria used in the determination of whether the Keystone pipeline application will ultimately be approved at the completion of the State Department decision process,” a senior administration official told Huffington Post. “In today’s speech, the president will make clear that the State Department should approve the pipeline only if it will not lead to a net increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions.”

While the Administration’s criteria for measuring the environmental impact of the pipeline remains unclear, a report out this week addressing the safety of the pipeline concluded that the pipeline would be minimally prone to failure, eliminating a key argument of environmentalists worried of the possibility of inland oil spills.

McCain Touts Berlin Wall-Style U.S. Borders

Immigration reform is an issue that could be tackled in a number of ways by Federal lawmakers. And depending upon how much you trust government, you may or may not like an amendment to the current Senate immigration proposal being touted by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). He says the amendment would provide the U.S. with “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

It also allows for a renewed push for amnesty for what would amount to about 16 million new Americans.

“The legislation concerning beefed up border security removes any validity to the argument that border security is not sufficient,” McCain said on CNN of the amendment from Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

The amendment, designed to warm conservative holdouts to the amnesty-laden Banda de los Ocho immigration proposal would, according to McCain, provide for 20,000 additional Border Patrol officers and 700 new miles of border fence.

“This is a border security measure which I think should suffice to satisfy any critic and it is a tough way forward and it is a way forward, a tough way forward so that we can resolve this and bring 11 million people out of the shadows,” McCain said.

Indeed, the measure made progress in the Senate Monday with a 62-27 vote — meaning 15 additional GOP lawmakers jumped on board with the proposal.

The promise of a heavily militarized boarder is contingent upon de facto amnesty for illegal aliens already in the Nation.

While the heavy-handed border proposal may seem like a good idea to many conservatives, reports of a border patrol checkpoint popping up more than 100 miles away from the southern border in recent years may make some civil libertarians uneasy.

In September 2011, former Representative Ron Paul discussed his concerns over exactly the sort of proposal McCain is now championing during a Presidential primary debate.

“The people that want big fences and guns, sure, we could secure the border,” the congressman noted. “A barbed wire fence with machine guns, that would do the trick. I don’t believe that is what America is all about.

“Every time you think about this toughness on the border and ID cards and REAL IDs, think it’s a penalty against the American people too. I think this fence business is designed and may well be used against us and keep us in. In economic turmoil, the people want to leave with their capital and there’s capital controls and there’s people controls. Every time you think about the fence, think about the fences being used against us, keeping us in.”

Paul was criticized for his remarks by conservatives at the time. But revelations about National Security Administration spying, massive government ammo buys and the Internal Revenue Service being used to attack dissidents may have more people thinking like the retired lawmaker than ever before.

No More Sunshine And Butterflies: NSA Fallout Broadsides Lib Lawmakers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has had a pretty fail-safe formula for “preaching to the choir” speaking engagements over the past few years: Praise President Barack Obama, demonize conservatives and talk about rainbows, butterflies, abortion and homosexuality.

But revelations that the National Security Agency is spying on Americans is “gumming up the works” for liberals like Pelosi. She is increasingly being met by crowds of liberals angry that Obama’s tactics pretty much destroy the idea of leftist utopia.

“He did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents,” Pelosi said of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, addressing attendees of the annual Netroots National conference of liberal Internet activists. “We have to have a balance between security and privacy.”

She then moved to make the case to liberal supporters that Obama’s spying is somehow more noble than George W. Bush’s.

“People on the far right are saying oh, this is the fourth term of President Bush,” Pelosi said. “Absolutely, positively not so.”

The Democrat veteran lawmaker was promptly met with a barrage of shouts from the crowd in support of Snowden and the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s not a balance. It’s not Constitutional!” one attendee shouted before being removed. “No secret laws!”

And a chant could be heard emerging from the audience, “Leave him alone! Secrets and lies! No secret courts! Protect the 1st Amendment.”

As the event organizers attempted to quiet the crowd, the verbal jibes continued.

One man in attendance shouted at Pelosi what conservatives have been shouting at her for years, “You suck!”

IRS Handed Out Tax Dollars To Friends

Each year, American taxpayers file paperwork to the Internal Revenue Service declaring earnings, expenditures and write-offs; they then send the filings off to the tax agency and hope they aren’t subject to an audit. But when no one is watching the watcher, power is abused.

House investigators reveal in a recent report that one businessman’s friendship with an IRS official allowed him to accrue $500 million in taxpayer-funded Federal contracts.

“Today, the IRS cannot look taxpayers in the eye and truthfully say they are protecting their contributions to government,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa said in a statement. “By inappropriately using a personal relationship and abusing a provision designed to help disadvantaged businesses, the IRS and Strong Castle have made a mockery of fair and open competition for government contracts. Taxpayers deserve accountability and the Committee is troubled by this unacceptable behavior.”

Braulio Castillo, owner of Signet Computers, is accused of using his friendship with an IRS contracting official to secure the contracts. He denies any wrongdoing.

However, in a letter to Treasury officials, Issa said of the relationship between Castillo and the IRS employee: “At best, this is a conflict of interest that runs afoul of Part 3 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation. At worst, the IRS may have a situation in which a contracting official is awarding sole source contracts based on false justifications, or receiving kickbacks in exchange for government contracts.”

International Community Rejects American Hegemony In Efforts To Capture Snowden

With regard to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, it looks like the United States’ international hegemonic policies have encouraged a number of foreign leaders to question the Nation’s dedication to justice and resist calls to turn the whistle-blower over to U.S. authorities.

There is a noticeable disconnect between what U.S. officials say on the international stage about the need to protect whistle-blowers and dissidents, and how officials go about dealing with people who engage in those activities at home.

As of Monday, Russian and Ecuadorian officials were in close contact discussing options for providing asylum from U.S. prosecution to Snowden, who traveled to Russia at the invitation of government officials over the weekend.

The Administration of President Barack Obama, a bipartisan troop of American establishment lawmakers and U.S. prosecutors have already declared Snowden a traitor and charged him with spying under the outdated Espionage Act of 1917. Meanwhile, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino asked a question Monday that is likely on the minds of most average Americans: Has Snowden really betrayed average Americans and their safety, or did he simply ruffle the feathers of the Nation’s powerful elite?

Ecuador is considering offering Snowden permanent asylum, questioning whether the whistle-blower has any real chance of receiving a fair trial in his home country. The nation’s leaders say they feel compelled to offer Snowden asylum because they operate under a policy of placing human rights before the interests of any party. Furthermore, Ecuadorian officials say it doesn’t make sense that a man who revealed rights abuses would face prosecution from the alleged abusers.

“It should be asked, who betrayed whom,” Patino stressed, as he questioned calling Snowden’s leak “treason.”

“Is this betraying the citizens of the world, or betraying some elites that are in power in a certain country?” the Minister pondered.

In making his case for asylum to the international community, Snowden has plenty of examples to strengthen his argument. He has frequently referenced the Federal government’s treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning leading up to his court martial for leaking Army documents to Wikileaks. That leak turned international opinion strongly against the United States, as it highlighted possible war crimes at the hands of American soldiers.

“It is unlikely that I will have a fair trial or humane treatment before trial, and also I have the risk of life imprisonment or death,” Snowden said in his asylum bid.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has doubled down on portraying Snowden as a traitor. Secretary of State John Kerry chided nations that have helped Snowden evade U.S. officials.

“There would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship” with the United States if foreign actions were helping the whistle-blower skirt American prosecution.

“There is a surrender treaty with Hong Kong and, if there was adequate notice, I don’t know yet what the communication status was, but if there was, it would be very disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane as a result,” Kerry said. “With respect to Russia, likewise.”

As for Ecuador, officials in the nation appear poised to reject U.S. efforts to prosecute Snowden as well.

“The relationship between the U.S. and Ecuador should be based on respect for the sovereignty of both countries and our actions are founded on our principles. We consider the consequences of our decisions, but we act in the name of our principles,” said Patino.

Teachers’ Union Boss: Gun Lovers Are Going To Hell

If you are a 2nd Amendment supporter, you better hope your child’s teacher isn’t taking notes from the heads of America’s educators’ unions.

The vice president of the National Education Association (NEA) made an outrageous statement Friday about 2nd Amendment supporters: She outright condemned them to hell.

Speaking before a gathering of liberal activists who convened for the Netroots Nation convention, NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said of politicians and lobbyists working to promote gun rights: “I’m not an ordained minister; I’m not a theologian, but these guys are going to hell.”

Garcia was speaking on a panel called “Not Another Newtown: Building a Movement to Prevent Gun Violence,” a discussion aimed at teaching liberal activists the best tactics for pressuring lawmakers into passing stricter gun laws.

“We have to make those Senators as frightened of us as they are of the gun lobby,” she said. “Shame on us if we give one inch to the gun lobby. They got where they are because they never give up. … Now the movement is us; we are the ones we were waiting for.”

The NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are two education-affiliated groups who have made a continual effort to reignite legislative efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws, despite the death of a Senate gun-control effort in April.

AFT President Randi Weingarten told the gathering of 3,000 liberal activists that the anti-gun crowd should take note of the success the homosexual lobby and immigration advocates have by making the issue personal.

“When people see faces and when they are impacted individually, it changes minds,” she said, according to Mercury News.

On her NEA blog, Garcia gives an example of the mindset of the educator unions, writing:

They have built over the years an army of politicians – local, state and national – who either inexplicably agree with Any Gun to Anyone or who conveniently agree to be quiet and not ask inconvenient questions. This army of politicians trumped 90% of Americans. For my friend, the handwriting was on the wall. Defeat. How sad. Give up.

Here is why we will not: Babies died. Our sons and daughters and grandchildren died. Our neighbors and relatives died. We won’t give up because silence means it will happen again. It means it could get worse. There are serious and idiotic debates on whether to arm teachers and train them for shoot-outs in the hall because the gun lobby’s answers to gun violence always involve selling more guns to Anybody to prepare for the next inevitable tragedy.

Their answers never involve preventing the next inevitable tragedy, but the next tragedy is inevitable only if those 90% of Americans fail to act.

The increasing vigor with which the Nation’s teachers’ unions are calling for stricter gun-control laws could explain the uptick in reports involving teachers going to great lengths to make guns seem evil in the classroom — even those of the orange-tipped plastic, gestural or chewed-out-of-a-pastry varieties.

Dem Lawmaker: GOP Can Save Itself By Being More Democrat

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has set about on an odd mission: saving the Republican Party by urging members of the GOP to support Democrat legislative proposals.

Wait, what?

Rangel argued on FOX News over the weekend that if conservatives didn’t support an amnesty-laden immigration effort, the Republican Party would likely dissolve in coming years.


 

“I would hate for them to see themselves just go out of business and we don’t have this competitive form of ideas in our great country,” he said. “It’s the right thing for the country, and it certainly is a right thing to make certain we have two parties competing against each other.”

Rangel said that conservatives have pushed back against amnesty for mostly racist reasons.

“There are many people from States that are not very friendly to new Americans, or the possibility that we have new Americans,” Rangel surmised during the interview.

While Rangel’s remarks seem bizarre at least, he is echoing an opinion made recently by fellow Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey. Menendez also believes the GOP is endangering its future by not catering to Hispanics.

Of course, why wouldn’t Democrats want a whole GOP made up of RINOs like Senator John McCain of Arizona, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and upcoming Democrat-in-training Marco Rubio of Florida. Many conservatives, however, would likely argue that eliminating lawmakers like the aforementioned would strengthen the GOP and reinvigorate its truly conservative base.

How Does Obama Make You Feel?

Let’s try something. Glance at the picture below.

President Obama hosts a Father's Day luncheon

What was the first word that popped into your head?

If you said “incompetent” or “liar,” you aren’t alone. According to the results of a recent Pew survey gauging the President’s job approval rating, those terms are among the most popular descriptors used in reference to President Barack Obama in recent months.

Although some positive terms, like “good man” and “honest,” also appear on the list of words and phrases used to describe the President, Obama is more likely than at any other point in his Presidency to elicit descriptive words with negative connotations from respondents.

Here is an overview, via the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press:

pew

In terms of public approval, 49 percent of respondents said they approve of the President’s handling of his job. Forty-three percent said they disapprove.

It would seem apparent that the recent deluge of scandals that have rocked the White House would have an obvious negative impact on the public’s approval of the President. But the numbers suggest that Obama’s approval ratings have held steadfast near 50 percent since the beginning of the year.

Using the two Presidential Administrations preceding Obama as a gauge, Pew finds:

Obama’s current job rating of 49% is higher than George W. Bush’s rating in June 2005 (42%), but lower than Bill Clinton’s job measure in June 1997 (54%).

The partisan divide in opinions about Obama’s performance is virtually the mirror image of views of Bush at a comparable point in his second term.

Obama’s ratings on the economy, with the help of a perceived economic uptick in recent months, have improved. Currently, 44 percent of Americans approve of his economic efforts while  50 percent disapprove. It is Obama’s highest net approval rating on the economy since his first year in office, but the number is well below the 60 percent approval rating Obama received for handling the economy in April 2009.

Let us know what word popped in your head on viewing Obama’s picture in the comment section below; but, remember, we moderate our comments.

FBI Wants More Power To Spy On Americans On The Internet

His timing isn’t so great, but FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers last week that Federal agencies must be given expanded powers of surveillance with regard to Americans’ electronic communications for the government to protect the Nation against possible terror attacks in the future.

Despite lawmaker skepticism of the Constitutionality of the Federal government’s surveillance efforts and growing public concern, Mueller contends that the Internet and electronic communications should be subject to increased government scrutiny because criminals can use them to thwart court-ordered wiretaps.

“The rapid pace of advances in mobile and other communication technologies continues to present a significant challenge for conducting court-approved electronic surveillance of criminals and terrorists,” Mueller said.

“Because of this gap, law enforcement is increasingly unable to gain timely access to the information to which it is lawfully authorized and that it needs to protect public safety, bring criminals to justice and keep America safe,” he added.

Federal agencies were pushing for increased power to spy on Americans’ electronic communications before news of the National Security Agency’s policy of widespread collection of phone records broke. Last month, FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann told a gathering of the American Bar Association that government investigators faced a “going dark” problem — asserting that the rise in popularity of online chat services, video communications and cloud-based document services are making it difficult for the government to spy on Americans in real time.

Currently, the government can require Internet providers and Internet companies to install surveillance equipment, pursuant to the 1994 Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). Alleging that criminals are increasingly taking to Skype, Google Voice, Dropbox and even chat functions on popular online games to communicate, the Feds are lobbying for the power to conduct real-time surveillance on those services.

Basically, the Feds want to assign any electronic communications activity the same diminished threshold for expectation of privacy as an audible, private conversation in a busy public square.

At present, CALEA can be used only to make Internet and phone providers build surveillance into their networks. And a separate provision granted in the “Wiretap Act” can be used by authorities to request “technical assistance” in snooping through Americans’ emails and chat communications. But it simply isn’t enough, according to Fed officials. They contend that government investigators essentially need the ability to compel Internet and electronic communications companies to effectuate wiretaps on customers in the name of government surveillance.

Bottom line: Even as Americans are up in arms over the idea that Federal officials have access to a complete list of private phone records, the Feds continue to double down on efforts to spy on all other forms of electronic communication.

No Matter Who You Feel Is Right Or Wrong, This Video Is a Reminder Of How Dangerously Close ‘Hope’ And ‘Change’ Are Bringing The Nation To Widespread Civil Unrest

A man speaking at a gun control rally in Concord, N.H., this week about how stricter gun laws would have prevented his daughter’s shooting death was heckled by an angry 2nd Amendment advocate.

Heckler Daniel Musso rudely interrupted the speaker and played to a minority crowd of gun-rights supporters present at the rally.

When Musso backed down, he was confronted by police and the situation quickly escalated, culminating in his being Tazed and cuffed by officers much to the chagrin of angry—and some armed—gun rights advocates.

No matter who is wrong here, it is a frightening reminder of the current state of the Union.